Retiring senior investigator: DA’s claims unfounded and libelous

December 29, 2017 GMT

A retiring senior investigator with the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office called the district attorney’s statement this week about his credibility unfounded and libelous.

David Williams said he was caught off guard when he read about Amanda Hopper’s allegations in this newspaper’s story on Wednesday.

Hopper had emailed a statement to the Appeal-Democrat commenting on an investigation into the conduct of her chief investigator, Jason Parker. Two weeks ago, Parker had issued a statement alleging his boss improperly used public funds, participated in an illegal wiretap, furnished a controlled substance to an investigator, and improperly used California Public Safety realignment funding.

At the time, Hopper called the accusations lies and said she could not comment on human resources matters. But in the statement she issued this week, she addressed Parker’s claims and also mentioned Williams. She said that Parker and Williams had been found “to not be credible,” in reference to statements they had provided in an investigation of Parker’s conduct.

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Williams is set to retire today after nearly 29 years with the county – first, with the sheriff’s department, then the drug and gang task force NET-5, then the District Attorney’s Office.

“Most of the time, when employees serve the citizens of their county with honor and dignity, they are usually recognized with a gold resolution by the Sutter County Board of Supervisors,” Williams said in an emailed statement Wednesday evening. “Instead, I receive a (libelous) statement by the District Attorney of Sutter County who is supposed to represent justice, honor, and integrity in which she has none.”

Sutter County Administrator Scott Mitnick confirmed in a phone conversation Thursday that the county is not conducting any sort of investigation into Williams.

When asked the purpose of naming Williams when there’s no action being taken against him, Hopper said it’s her department’s duty to proactively disclose “such information.” Her emailed statement:

“Brady v. Maryland is a seminal case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1963. It makes clear that suppression of evidence favorable to an accused violates the due process clause of the 14thAmendment of the United States Constitution. The resulting ‘Brady Rule’ imposed on prosecutors a due process affirmative duty to disclose to the defendant all material evidence that is favorable and that is possessed by the prosecution team. This rule has been affirmed countless times in the intervening decades. Favorable evidence has repeatedly been defined as including evidence impeaching witness credibility. It is well established in the law that no witness may testify under a false aura of veracity. Therefore, it is required of the district attorney’s office to disclose any credibility issues of any witness, but especially their investigating officers.

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“This is such a serious obligation on the District Attorney’s Office that failure to proactively disclose such information may result in dismissal of charges or cases, a civil action against the prosecutor, or in criminal charges against the prosecutor.”

Williams alleges that Hopper’s statement Tuesday was a direct result of his retirement and plans to run for the position of district attorney in next year’s election.

“D.A. Hopper will have many questions she will be required to answer when it is time for one-on-one debates,” Williams wrote. “But for now, she’ll have to answer for this very (libelous) and unfounded statement. My credibility has never been questioned in 28 1/2 years of service and it will not be questioned by DA Hopper now.”

In a response to Hopper’s statement Wednesday, Parker wrote that Hopper acted outside of county rules or law when she placed him on leave after he filed a grievance against her; attempted to hide the administrative investigation from Parker; and by discussing personnel matters in a statement to the Appeal-Democrat.

Parker’s attorney claimed two weeks ago that firing Parker was retaliation because he “blew the whistle” on his boss when he reported her to the state Attorney General’s Office. In the last three months, Hopper has said she cannot comment on human resource matters, though she said she was not aware of any investigation into claims against her.

Parker also reported Sutter County counsel Jean Jordan for ethical violations, according to the Dec. 14 statement. The county and Board of Supervisors have said they cannot comment on personnel matters or litigation.